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Mystery Insect (6/04/20)

This moth was found during field scouting last week. Do you know what it is?

This moth was found during field scouting last week. Do you know what it is?

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This is the Cecropia moth, Hyalophora cecropia, and belongs to the family Saturniidae (giant silk moths). Cecropia moths are the largest native moth in North America with a wingspan of 5-7 inches. The spots on the wings look like ‘eyes’ to scare predators like birds. What does it eat? The moth stage is non-feeding. Its main purpose is to reproduce, and females lay up to 100 eggs. Cecropia moths are short-lived, only about 2-3 weeks. However, the immature stage (larva or caterpillar) feeds on the leaves of many trees and shrubs - ash, birch, boxelder, elm, maple, poplar, wild cherry, plum, willow, apple and lilac. It is generally not a pest, but considered a beautiful moth! Children enjoy rearing the caterpillar into a moth as a ‘pet’ project to enhance their understanding of nature and insects!

 

Janet J. Knodel

Extension Entomologist

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